Glossary of Library Terms

Confused by library jargon? Here are some common terms to know...

Abstract: A short summary of what an article is about.

Archives: Unpublished historical material, such as original letters, diaries, drafts, photographs, drawings, unedited recordings, etc. 

Article: A short study of a subject. Scholarly articles have been peer reviewed (see definition below) and are usually intended for other scholars or students studying that topic. Magazine or newspaper articles are for general audiences; depending on how you use them, they can be either primary or secondary sources (see definitions below).

Citations / References: These are how authors record where they found their information.

Finding aid: A list or inventory of the contents of an archival collection.

Full text: Digital access to a complete article or book.

Journal: In an academic context, a journal is a source of articles written by experts who cite the source of their information. Most are peer-reviewed (see definition). Although some journals are not peer-reviewed, you might be able to use them as primary sources, depending on the context.

Limiters: Ways of refining your search results in a library catalog or database.

Manuscript: A handwritten, typewritten, or other unpublished document.

Monograph: A scholarly book about a particular topic.

Open access: Free. A university ID or logon is not required.

Peer-Reviewed / Scholarly / Academic Journal: A journal in which the articles have been researched and written by scholars and then evaluated for quality and accuracy by other experts in the field.

Primary Source: A document that is contemporary to the topic that you are studying. Primary sources were often produced by people who participated in or witnessed a historical event. A historical edition of a literary text may count as a primary source.

Review: One person's opinion about a literary or scholarly text. A review can be a primary or secondary source, depending on how you use it.

Secondary Source: A later analysis of a historical event, person, or theme, based on one person's perspective or interpretation of primary sources.

Subject heading: A very general summary of what the book or article is about. Click on it to find related sources.


English Librarian

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Glenn Koelling

Fall 2022 Drop In Office Hours
Centennial Library, L259A

Tues 11-12; Thurs 9-11

Subjects: English